Sean Dennison has a special fondness for the Steel City Bowl.
He played, as a member of the St. Mary Crusaders, in the inaugural Hamilton all-star high school football game – formerly known as the Senior Bowl – for coach Tom Gallagher of Cathedral High School.
That was in 1991.
And on Friday night, at McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium, Dennison came full circle. The veteran St. Mary senior coach served as the head coach of the North squad, which fell 27-18 to the South.
The game featured players from both the Hamilton Catholic and Hamilton Public leagues. Lower-city schools faced those located on the Mountain.
A total of 48 elite players from the seven Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association teams were selected to take part in the contest which experienced cool but calm and dry weather conditions.
“I love this game and appreciate it,” Dennison said on field at the conclusion of the award ceremonies. “I feel the pride. Scouts say it’s one of the best-played all-star games in the province”
Dennison’s side trailed until mid way through the fourth quarter when Ryan Ogilvie of the Cardinal Newman Cardinals – the North’s Offensive Player of the Game – eluded a tackle after catching a short pass and took it in for a 15-yard touchdown. That score and conversion gave the North an 18-14 lead.
The South rose up again, though. Quarterback Evan Hillock of the St. Thomas More Knights tossed a deep pass to Carter Miscione of the Bishop Tonnos Titans. That well-executed pass-and-run play covered 71 yards before Miscione stumbled at the 3-yard line. From there, Carm Concalves of the Bishop Ryan Celtics took a handoff and plowed into the end zone for the go-ahead major with 5:29 remaining.
The South added an insurance major with 32 seconds left on a nine-yard run by Kaymmel King of the Saltfleet Storm.
“It was fun playing with players from different schools,” said Hillock, who threw two first-half touchdown pass. “I liked the experience.”
Hillock’s scoring strikes covered 15 yards to his Knights teammate Edge Williams and 25 yards to Sebastian Masotti of Bishop Ryan.
The North replied in the second quarter with an outstanding 39-yard completion for a TD from Cathedral Gaels quarterback Anthony Pimentel to Anthony Grigg (Cardinal Newman).
Trailing 14-9 at the half, the North narrowed the margin to three points heading into the fourth quarter thanks to the South’s second conceded safety touch of the night.
Joe Borgacci of Tonnos and Vince Triumbari of Newman handled the kicking duties.
Hillock and the seven other St. Thomas More players on the roster were coming off an OFSAA Festival Series Western Bowl championship victory in Ottawa on Monday. They arrived back in Hamilton Tuesday afternoon and still came out for Steel City Bowl evening practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“To do what they did this week was special,” Dennison said of More’s involvement in the Steel City Bowl event so soon after winning its third consecutive OFSAA title.
“We went after it,” said Hillock, who said he plans to return to St. Thomas More next season.
The Most Valuable Player selection for the 2018 Steel City Bowl was Anthony Moretuzzo of Cardinal Newman who excelled on offence, defence and special teams. In addition, many of the game’s key plays involved Catholic league representatives.
“The bar is high in our league and we know that,” Dennison said. “That shows in a game like this.”
Other individual award winners from the South were DeEmetrius Masuka of Bishop Ryan (two interceptions), Williams and Hillock.
Source: Marnie Jadon